In these proceedings, the appellant, a practising barrister who is black, is claiming damages from the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”) in respect of disciplinary proceedings brought against her which ended in her acquittal on appeal in August 2012. She alleges that the BSB infringed her right to a fair trial in breach of ECHR, art 14, read with art 6 and submits that the defendant’s rules are applied in such a way that, although the Code of Conduct of the Bar applies to all barristers in England and Wales, it particularly disadvantages ethnic barristers who make up only a small proportion of the membership of the Bar.

The Court of Appeal

In the Court of Appeal, the defendant denied the appellant’s allegations, and argued that the claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 were time-barred. The appellant contended, however, that ‘aspects’ of the claim were in time as s 6(6) of the Act provides that an “act” includes a failure to “act”, and this implies that, where an initial decision is taken to act in a way that violates a person’s human rights, the “act” for the purposes of the Act continues until the public authority decides to cease violating that person’s rights. Therefore she submitted that the court below had been wrong not to grant her an extension of time under the Human Rights Act 1998, s 7(5)(b).

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant’s appeal as she did not ask the Deputy Master in the court below to exercise his discretion to extend time, and he was not at fault in failing to consider whether to extend time on his own initiative. The Court of Appeal rejected the submission that the appellant was seeking an extension of time by implication. Rather, her decision to appeal to the judge was consistent with her believing that the claim was not time-barred because she had started proceedings within one year of the act of which she complained and on that basis, she did not need to ask and was not asking for an extension of time.

Issues before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court must consider whether, where a person claims that a prosecution has been brought in breach of her human rights, the time limit for bringing proceedings under the Human Rights Act 1998 runs from the date of her acquittal/conviction, or the date on which any appeals are granted.

It must also consider whether the High Court judge was correct to conclude, for the purposes of the summary judgment application, that the appellant’s claim of indirect discrimination contrary to ECHR, arts 6 and 14 had a real prospect of success.

This appeal is to be heard on 4th October 2017.